Drew Hendry – 2021 Speech on the Trade Deal Between the UK and Australia

The speech made by Drew Hendry, the SNP MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, in the House of Commons on 17 June 2021.

I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of her statement.

For all the bluster, the Secretary of State knows that any deal with Australia cannot even make a dent in the shortfall created by the trading disaster of leaving the EU. The simple fact is that we are doing much less trade now than we were before 1 January. This deal will take 15 years to deliver one 200th of the benefits lost from EU membership—and that loss has already cost Scotland’s economy around £4 billion and is projected to cost every person £1,600 in red tape and barriers to trade.

The Secretary of State talks of whisky exports to Australia, while ignoring the fact that the Brexit costs of goods for distilleries have shot up by around 20%, and that is in addition to lost trade. This deal cannot come close to mitigating those costs or loss of sales. Fourteen of Scotland’s food and drink organisations have written to the Secretary of State to say that they have been ignored by this Government. They are Scotland’s farmers, crofters, producers and manufacturers. They know that they are being dragged underwater by yet another Westminster Government who simply do not care. And for what—swimwear?

In the 1970s, the Tories officially called Scottish fishing expendable, and they repeated that attitude on the way out of the EU. Even the Tories in Scottish constituencies now show the same contempt for Scottish agriculture. They have failed to back any amendments to legislation that would protect UK standards in trade negotiations or even public services.

Can the Secretary of State guarantee that the deal does not include investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms that could give corporations the right to sue Governments over actions that affect their profits, thereby potentially leading to the privatisation of public services such as the NHS or changes to workers’ rights? How will she guarantee that no cut of hormone-injected beef from Australia or food products treated with pesticides and antibiotics will appear on our supermarket shelves? She cannot, can she? Will she simply duck these questions and prove, once again, that the only way to protect Scotland’s business and consumers is through independence?